Pin It
Favorite

Scared Stiff 

The Quiet Ones takes an old-school approach to horror, and that might be its biggest flaw

click to enlarge Olivia Cooke as the demon-addled young woman in The Quiet Ones.
  • Olivia Cooke as the demon-addled young woman in The Quiet Ones.

"Welcome to the experiment," says seedy-tweedy Professor Coupland to his new documentarian, AV geek Brian, not quite adding "Bwahahahaha!" to the greeting — but you can almost hear it anyway.

We had already started to suspect that the academic is a little bit mad and sadistic, with his cold approach to some quite disturbing matters that might rattle even the most rational. Also, he's Jared Harris, bringing his usual offhand creepiness to the screen in a new, yet old-fashioned, little British horror flick from legendary Hammer Films, which produced a slew of gothic chillers in the 1950s, '60s and '70s and has reemerged in recent years with a revival of its appreciation for spooky atmosphere over blood and gore, most notably (so far) with The Woman in Black, starring Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe.

In The Quiet Ones, Brian (Sam Claflin) is not one of Coupland's students at Oxford University — "I'd never get in here," he laments — which makes him the perfect outside observer and resident skeptic, and our eyes, as he (and we) are introduced to Coupland's attempts, with the assistance of a couple of students/acolytes, to cure his "psychotic" subject Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke). At first sight, their treatment of her appears abusive: she is locked in a bedroom in a small house in Oxford, the covered-up windows keeping the room dark, a prison-like slot in the door for communication and food, and rock music blaring loudly into her room. It looks like torture, but it transpires that Jane — who definitely ain't right in a horror-movie sort of way — approves of her situation, meant to help keep her demons at bay. Are those demons real or imaginary? Coupland believes there is something scientific and psychiatric, not supernatural, behind what appears to be Jane's demonic possession, and he is going to prove his theory and show all those scoffers back in the faculty lounge.

The year is 1974, so Brian's documenting of the experiment happens via giant, clunky film cameras, some footage from which is shared with us. And though The Quiet Ones in no way purports to be a Paranormal Activity-style documentary, director John Pogue's mix of straight-up narrative and faux retro/faux found footage adds to the overall spookiness in a way the usual horror-flick claim that what we are witnessing was "inspired by actual events" does not.

There aren't many outright scares here, and when they do come, they are curiously circumspect — so as not to bounce the film up into R-rated territory, I suspect. But once the experiment moves to a creaky old house out in the remote countryside, thanks to complaints from neighbors in town (that demon-dampening rock music is really loud) and the university pulling Coupland's funding, the old-fashioned Hammer Horror atmosphere cranks up, and not just because of the '70s-era fog of cigarette smoke hanging over the proceedings. Bwahahaha. ♦

Trailer


The Quiet Ones
Rated PG-13 · 98 minutes · 2014
Official Site: thequietonesmovie.com
Director: John Pogue
Producer: Steven Chester Prince, Ben Holden, James Gay-Rees, Simon Oakes, Tobin Armbrust, Kevin Matusow, Kate Bacon, Carissa Buffel, Jillian Longnecker, Alex Brunner, Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Marc Schipper
Cast: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Laurie Calvert, Aldo Maland, Max Pirkis, Tracy Ray and Richard Cunningham

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Quiet Ones

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • True West
  • True West

    The Magnificent Seven returns to a much-needed territory: Western heroism
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Enemy No. 1
  • Enemy No. 1

    Oliver Stone's Snowden doesn't break new ground but is still a thrill ride
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Scratch That
  • Scratch That

    Bridget Jones's Baby feels almost proudly stuck in another era
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
WSU Humanitas Festival

WSU Humanitas Festival @ Washington State University

Through Sept. 24

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Horror Re-runs
  • Horror Re-runs

    Blair Witch can't capture the found-footage magic of the original
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Casted Away
  • Casted Away

    The Wild Life abandons its Robinson Crusoe source material
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Gun Show
  • Gun Show

    Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are armed and dangerous in the true story War Dogs
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Art of the Deal

    Local indie labels offer artists another marketing option, but not everyone is convinced they're necessary
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation